Inter-ethnic fighting in north Mali leaves 30 dead

BAMAKO Fri Feb 7, 2014 10:17am EST

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BAMAKO (Reuters) - Around 30 ethnic Tuaregs were killed in northern Mali's Gao region in localized fighting with ethnic Peuls, the Ministry of Defence said on Friday.

"It was score-settling between Peuls and Tuaregs in the Djebok district," said Defence Minister Soumeylou Boubeye Maiga. He gave no details but added that fighting between the two groups happens frequently.

A shortage of good grazing land is one source of tension between the two communities.

A French-led offensive in January 2013 drove out Islamist militants who had seized control of northern Mali. Some fighters linked to al Qaeda are still holding out in pockets of territory in the north, but there were no indications of al Qaeda involvement in this week's clash.

Malian soldiers were investigating and interviewing witnesses, the commander of Malian forces in Gao, Colonel Abdoulaye Coulibaly told Reuters.

Peul is a French word for the Fula, or Fulani people, a group that lives in many countries in central and west Africa. Tuaregs are mostly nomadic pastoralists who live in northern Mali and elsewhere in the Sahara.

(Reporting by Tiemoko Diallo; Editing by Matthew Mpoke Bigg and Sonya Hepinstall)

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